Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Order out of chaos

Have spent the day sorting out all my emails, letters, and phone calls in response to my request in the Brecon and Radnor and South Wales Echo.
So far have received 68 replies so its going to be some time before I get around to eveyone though hopefully all will have had an acknowledgement by now. ( Malcolm, husband, was left answering all the correspondence while I was in Wales).

So a big "thank-you" to one and all for a fantastic response.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Caroline Boyce ( nee Havard)

E-mail this evening from Caroline who was in Craig-y-nos for 20 months from 1949. She lives less than half an hour from my home in Scotland - just along the Ochils in Muckhart!....I still cant believe it.
She's got lots of photographs too and we are going to meet up.

Photo caption (top): Mary Davies, Ann Rumsey and Caroline Havard
(bottom) Caroline with Margaret, Jean Carr and Ann Lloyd

Myfanwy Hoyles

Had a phone call this evening from Myfanwy Hoyles ( now Blatchford). We were in Craig-y-nos together (1952-53) though neither of us can remember each other. We are going to exchange photos to see if that jogs our memories. Myfanwy was in for five months. She remembers the day that Dr Huppert "flung off my vest which my mother had given me to wear under my pjyamas because she thought I was cold out on the balcony. Dr Huppert shouted at me:" Your body has got to breathe ! how can it do that if you cover it up.?"

Myfanwy remembers midnight feasts on the castle roof ( strictly out of bounds). "On one occasion we got caught rowing on the lake. Sister Morgan discovered us and we got the most awful row. Alfie the gardener was called upon to rescue us. After that we were punished and not allowed out and I remember that some of us tried to run away. We found the back road behind the morgue. We hadn't gone far though before we were caught."

"Before going into Craig-y-nos I was very shy, spoilt and a fussy eater. After I came out I would eat anything and I was no longer shy."

Today Myfanwy is married with one son and two grandchildren. She lives in Swansea.

Harry Secombe

Latest letter this morning from Pat Hybert who writes to say she was in Craig-y-nos from 1951 and remembers Harry Secombe coming to do a panto in the theatre. " I didn't go but he came around the wards after to see us," she says. She went in as a 17 year old and asks if anyone can remember Norma Pearce, Joan Thomas,and Jean Shakeshaft. She was in the six bedded ward.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Cynthia Mullan of The Sleeping Giant Foundation

Well, I walked into Craig-y-nos last Sunday expecting to meet maybe two or three people. Instead there was at least 10 or maybe more people all eager to talk and share their experiences and memories. The same again on Monday and more on Tuesday too. It was incredible. Everyone was wanting to share their photos and memories. I came home to find a backlog of 50 phone calls, emails, and letters. Some amazing stories have emerged. Please be patient as I try to sort it all out.
Many conversations started with:"This is the first time in 50 years I have spoken about Craig-y-nos..." and the stories would start to pour out.

The Sleeping Giant Foundation, ( new media charity dealing with oral history) based in Abercraf has offered to help collate information.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Off to Wales

This project seems to be generating a bit of interest in the media but ex-patients who were children at Craig-y-nos are reluctant to come forward. Have got quite a few members of staff and relatives prepared to meet me next week.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Local papers

Both the Brecon and Rador and the South Wales Echo are carrying stories today about this research. Hope it will throw up some contacts.

Staff at Craig-y-nos

This is a list of staff who worked at Craig-y-nos while it was a TB sanatorium. If you know of people who worked there and would like to add their names please email me:

Nurse Margaret Williams ("Auntie Maggie"); Sister Winifred Morgan; Dr Hubbard;
Miss White ( teacher); Mrs Thomas (teacher); Getta Hibbert (age 91 now living in Llandaff). Mrs Knox-Thomas ( matron).
Dr. Williams.

Staff nurse Lily May Jones, age 95, blind and living in a home near Cardiff.
Sister Miss Marion Evans, age 96, Pontardawe.

Ex-TB patients of Craig-y-nos

This is a list of people I am compiling, mostly children, who were at Craig-y-nos as patients with dates where possible.
This is the only known record of people who were there over a 40 year period and I am trying to fill in this historical gap. If you know of anyone could you e-mail me so that I can add their names? thank-you!
If you have photographs these would be much appreciated.

Ann Shaw ( nee Rumsey) ( 1950-1954); Roy Harry ( 1943- 1947); Horace Batts (1930s); John Price and sister Anne Price (1947);

Marie Jenkins (early 1950's) Gwyneth Davies - doctor (early 1950s), Clive Rowlands (1940s) -rugby star; Peter Llewellyn (1940s)- millionaire businessman;

Carole Hughes (early 1950s); Lynette Jenkins, Somerset (1953-55). Shirley Moore (1956-57), Gleneath;
Pamela Hill , (April 1958-April 1959).

Brecon museum

Have just spoken to Patti Harris who works in Brecon Museum. Her mother was a nurse at Craig-y-nos for over 30 years . Her name was Getta Hibbert and she is now 91 years of age and living in Llandaff.
Patti has lot of memories of growing up in the area. Her grandfather was a gardener for Adelina Patti.

Publisher and ex TB-patient

Have just spoken to publisher Trevor Brown who was a TB patient for six years in an English hospital. He is interested in commissioning a book on people who survived TB and went on to become high achievers. I have told him I will think about it . My interest is to tell the story of Craig-y-nos whereas he is more concered with a much bigger picture.

Clive Rowland-Welsh rugby icon

Have just had it confirmed that Clive Rowlands who John Price from Edmonton, Canada referred to on the BBCMidWales website, is indeed the Clive Rowlands of rugby fame! they were in Craig-y-nos at the same time.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The White Death ( continued)

The second thing that hit me was the number of "treatments" for TB which turned out to be useless - and I had received several of them from collapsing a lung, removal of lung lobe, bed on blocks and "fresh air "treatment.
Maybe it is just as well that I did not know at the time that all these interventions were pointless.

The White Death

Thomas Dormandy's book "The White Death" a History of Tuberculosis arrived this morning.
One of the first things that hit me when I started to do a rapid skim through were the number of famous people who have had TB.
Just a sample: D.H. Lawrence, Chopin, Paganini, Keats. Modigliani, Bronte sisters, Kafka, Chekhov, George Orwell, Audrey Beardsley, Kirchner, Laurence Sterne, Antoine Watteau, Katherine Mansfield, Albert Camus and Vivien Leigh.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Brecon and Radnor Express

Have sent a letter to the Editor of the Brecon and Radnor Express. A very helpful woman on the switchboard recalls seeing a photograph album of an ex-patient "with hundreds of photos in it" taken during her time there as a child.The woman has since died. She was adopted and had no family of her own.

Craig-y-nos matron

Does anyone recall the matron at Craig-y-nos - Mrs Knox-Thomas?

Ex- patient now millioniare

Cynthia speaks about an ex-patient, Peter Llewellyn, who became a millionaire after he sold his business to the Japanese company Konica. He now lives on the Gower peninsular.

Sleeping Giant Foundation

Mentioned to Cynthia Mullan of the Sleeping Giant Foundation the story about the RAF pilot and she says she has a cutting from a local newspaper of the wedding! Have arranged to meet her next Monday.

She used to organise reunions for up to 100 people at Craig-y-nos until it became too expensive.

Romance in Craig-y-nos

This came to me via the Carmarthen Reference Library by a librarian who had found it on the internet:

"During the Second World War a RAF pilot was brought to the hospital for treatment and met a young woman who was almost confined to her bed. They decided to wed but she was too ill to travel so the church granted them a special dispensation. They were married in the theatre and returned to the outside world after recovering their health."

Craig-y-nos letters from the 1930s

Have just had an e-mail from John S. Batts in Australia to say that the letters written by his distant relative, Horace Batts, in the 1930s are now in the Powys County Archives at Llandrindod Wells.
Horace was his father's first cousin and the letters were written to his family in Hay. He died at Craig-y-nos in his late 20s.
John deposited these letters in the archives last August so I should be able to see them when I am in Wales next week.

He says the letters speak of:" a prison-like atmosphere and the footling ( and wrong-headed!) rules under which the place was administered."
He adds:"I was struck by the needless, additional suffering which that hospital regime imposed upon its patients ( and their relatives)."

Friday, January 12, 2007

World wide web

The world wide web never ceases to amaze me!
I had assumed that the guy who wrote on the BBCMidWales website that he had letters from a Craig-y-nos patient in the 1930s lived in South Wales. Now I discover he is in Australia!...and he was one of the first to respond to my initial story. So I don't know how I am going to see these letters unless he is prepared to scan them in and send them to me on e-mail.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

All girls out together

This must have been taken in late 1953. The tall girl ( second from right) is Marie Jenkins from Cwmavon, near Port Talbot. I am second from the left.

In the grounds of Craig-y-nos

Ann Rumsey, age 11, in the grounds of Craig-y-nos with the matrons dog.

Craig-y-nos grounds 1952

With a friend in the grounds of Craig-y-nos. We were allowed out for up to two hours a day to walk in the grounds. This was taken shortly before I had a relapse and was put back to bed for another year.

Dorothy inside Ward 2, 1950

Dorothy was in the next bed to me and was a major influence on my life during the first couple of months. It was Dorothy who explained the cutlery to me. We had to tie bits of wool to the cups so that we had our own. One of the first initiations into life inside Craig-y-nos was to make all the new girls sing. This was decreed by the ward "boss", usually the oldest girl there. I was by far the youngest in the ward.

Inside Ward 2, 1950

This is the earliest photo I have of Craig-y-nos. I am 9 years of age. Friends surround my bed. My bed is raised on 12 inch blocks, one method of treatment before drugs were introduced.

Dorothy, my first friend in Craig-y-nos, with a member of staff.
The ventilation shaft behind the bed is to the Adelina Patti theatre. We would often peer inside it convinced it was some secret chamber.

Craig-y-nos, 1950

Bed elevated on 12ins blocks.

Playing at "nurses"

We may have been confined to bed but we still played games. Here we are dressed up as "nurses" and the dolls were our patients.


Mother sits by my bed during visiting.
Throughout the four years I was in Craig-y-nos she never failed to visit me. Looking back I now realise that this showed considerable tenacity and dedication on her part. She had to drive over an hour to get there from Crickhowell, the other side of the Brecon Beacons, not an easy road in winter.

Mother and father visit

This is the only photograph I have of myself with my parents. (I am in bed). Shirley, the other girl in the picture, had TB of the spine and had received a major operation. Now she wore a harness under her clothes.

Summer on the balcony 1950

My cousin, David Rumsey, a naval cadet at the time, and Mary Jones from Llanbedr, came to visit me once. I was very proud of them and insisted on having this photograph taken. My father did not visit me very often and some of the girls used to ask if he was dead. So I was delighted to have these visitors.
We were allowed visitors one weekend from 2-4pm once a month. All visitors had to have their bags searched incase they brought in food that was "unsuitable".
Visitors had to stand in line to be searched and mother told me that there was always a competition to be first in line to be searched so that they could then race upstairs to see us.

Summer on the balcony 1950

This was taken around 1950 on the balcony. We were given hats to protect us from the sun. I am the one in bed.

Early years at Craig-y-nos 1950

I am on the left hand side .
This photo show two different types of treatment used before the advent of drugs. I am on "blocks" the end of the bed raised up and required to lie on my left side. The girl next to me is in plaster. This was an elevated structure that encased her back.

Note how close the beds are. In Ward 2 a favourite games in the evenings was for girls to run from bed to bed even those who were supposed to be on strict bed-rest! I didn't play this game until I was much stronger.

Getting ready for an x-ray

X-rays were one of the highlights at Craig-y-nos. I am about to go to the x-ray department and one of the young nurses is helping me get ready.
The hospital porter, a well-liked and familiar figure in his brown overalls, prepares to wheel me down to the x-ray department. Another patient (name unknown) offers to come in the photograph too.

Staff at Craig-y-nos

This photo was taken on a Wednesday morning during Long Round and features Sister Morgan and Dr Williams. Long Rounds were a weekly event and were very impoortant. Depending on what the doctors decided would be your course of treatment.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baron Julius Reuter

Found this curious fact in Len Ley's book. Among the guests at the opening ceremony of the Adelina Patti theatre on 12th August 1891 was the Spanish ambassador and Baron Julius Reuter, founder of the foreign news agency.
My first job in London was with the Reuters news agency working in their library....

Len Ley:"The Iron Cradle"

Len's book arrived this morning from the Sleeping Giant Foundation. It is a history of Ystradgynlais and an account of the historical imporance of the Upper Tawe Valley during the Industrial Revolution. It contains one chapter on Craig-y-nos Castle and I was fascinated to read his account of Adelina Patti's life there and her influence on the local community. He is now researching a book on the whole of Craig-y-nos. AS a tour guide he has escorted people around many of the grand houses and castles in Wales and the Borders and in his opinion Craig-y-nos is by far the most interesting because it has a "story to tell".

Reading list

Working my way through the reading list supplied by Carole Reeves of The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College of London. One of her jobs is to help people do their own history of medicine:

Monday, January 08, 2007

Boomerang media company

Have had an e-mail from the Cardiff based media company, Boomerang. They are interested in my project and are considering putting it forward as an idea for a Radio 4 documentary.

X-rays in the roof

Roy says when the roof at Craig-y-nos was being investigated workmen found temporary repairs had been carried out using old x-rays! They had been stuffed in to try and prevent leaking.

Nurse from Craig-y-nos

I have just spoken to Roy, a patient in Craig-y-nos from 1943-46. It was amazing to talk to someone who had similar experiences to mine. It was like finding a long lost relative. We are going to meet up when I go down to Wales later this month. He tells me that he has met a former nurse from Craig-y-nos who still lives in the area.
"She says she doesn't remember an Ann Shaw but she does remember an Ann Rumsey."
"That's me! that was my maiden name."

UFO's in the Brecon Beacons

I wonder if Miss White noted down in her journal the day we saw a UFO- spaceship- floating down the valley? It happened one sunny morning in 1952 (or maybe 1953) about 11 o'clock. It was silent until it came alongside Craig-y-nos then it made a humming noise and disappeared out of sight.
Miss White hurried to call Dr Hubbard but it had gone by the time she arrived.

We used to see these strange objects in the sky at regular intervals- every few months- but after this daytime appearance we never saw them again.

Only learnt recently that the area is notorious for its sightings of UFOs. It is something I have never dared speak about before cause people think you might be a bit weird. I am sure tht there is some scientific explanation for the sightings though I am at a loss to know what they are. Time-travel?

Also, what we saw at Craig-y-nos cannot be dismissed as one child's over excited imagination: at least a dozen children saw it and several adult members of staff too.

One of many sites about the Brecon Beacons

Craig-y-nos School journal

My friend "Carver" and myself , 1953 in the grounds of Craig-y-nos. We were allowed out from 2-4pm once we were judged well enough.

Have just been in touch with the archivist from Llandridod Wells. She tells me they have the school journal from Craig-y-nos from 1947 to 1972. That is amazing! Have added it to my my research list for when I visit Wales later this month - January 20th.

The only lessons I remember, given my Miss White, were scripture, singing and hygiene. But there must have been others...

Miss White told us not to stick pins in our hands because they would let the germs in. I asked how many legs the germs had and received a slap in the face. My friend "Carver" said that the picture of germs in her book had more legs than mine and asked if her germs would walk in faster.
She too got a slap in the face.

She told us not to drink milk with flies in it : "even if you pull the flies out first."

Friday, January 05, 2007

June, my penpal from Dundee, 1950/51

This was a studio photo taken in Dundee. It was one of my treasured possessions. I wonder where June is now?

We all had pen-pals which we collected from the back of the Childrens Newspaper and we would write to them regularly.
Then we took to writing to soldiers in Germany.

Where are they now? Former patients at Craig-y-nos

These two girls were very lively but I can't remember their names.
(1952 approx)

Unknown young woman on the balcony.

Anyone recognize her? (around 1951/2)

Annie the maid

A quiet, gentle woman, we all remembered Annie with affection.

Summer 1950- 1951?

This could have been taken in either 1950 or 1951. I am on strict bedrest and required to lie on my left side all the time. Cant tell whether my bed is still on "blocks" or not.

Hair-washing time on the balcony

Summer on the balcony - 1951?

This girl had the "plaster bed" treatment. Part of her body was encased in plaster and she remained permanently elevated.

Anyone know this trio of girls?

Date 1952 (approx.)

Miss White, our teacher with myself ( in bed) and another girl who was on the balcony too. (1951 approx.)

Girl with bonnet

Does anyone recognize this girl? It was taken in the grounds of Craig-y-nos in 1952 or maybe 1953.

Where are they now?